Learn The Two Simplest Ways To Influence Others


by Kevin Watson



How do you know when you’ve done a great job…and how can you use this to influence others?

When asked this question, people will normally fall into one of two camps:

External Frame Of Reference

In the first, people know that they’ve done a great job because the evidence comes externally. Instead of “just knowing” they need external references from others, from statistics and from other sources.

For example, a colleague comes up and says “Great job today!”. Or you might get a promotion, or win an award. 

If you know your work is great when you get an outside seal of approval, this is called an external frame of reference.

Ask someone with an external frame of reference how they did and they’re likely to say “I don’t know” or they talk about “what others say”, “figures” etc.

Internal Frame Of reference

The second is full of people who know themselves when they have done a great job.

They don’t need praise or approval from others. They don’t need awards or plaudits.

Instead, their sense of achievement comes from within.

For example, imagine you’ve just completed a project that received all sorts of favourable comments from peers and bosses. You’ve even received a bonus for it.

Note that these are all external frames of reference, by the way. 

However, despite this feedback, you think the project was nothing special and was not your best work – so no external references will convince you otherwise.

You trust your own judgement and standards rather than others. 

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.Robin S. Sharma

How does this help to influence others?

Let’s assume that you have to influence someone to attend a training course. You might say something like:

“The course is just great. It’s got top awards in the Training Oscars. James and Andrew went on the course and they said that it is a must if you want to improve your leadership skills.”

Now, if the person has an external frame of reference this will really appeal to him or her.

How come?

Well, take a look at the external references:

  • “The course is just great…”
  • “It’s got top awards from the Training Oscars”
  • “James and Andrew said…”

If other people and external sources say that this course is great, then that person will often assume the same.

But say the person has an internal frame of reference?

Well, what you said will probably not resonate at all. Remember, they’re not bothered about what others think or say about the course. It just doesn’t mean anything to them.

So, what do you say instead?

You’ve got to appeal to the things that he or she knows themselves.

Something like this will work:

“Do you remember when you came back from the leadership programme and you said that it was the best course you had ever been on? This training course might be like that. I think if you were to attend you would get the same feelings and outcomes that you had with the other one. What do you think?”

Spot the internal references?

Call To Action

Now, think about the situations where you need to influence others. Perhaps the people in your team, or your colleagues.

Who can you get the best from if you use external references?

And, who will you get the best from if you use internal references?


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About the Author

Kevin Watson

Kevin is a highly experienced Leadership Coach and acts as Consultant to several boards of global organisations, as well as local business owners. He is passionate about making a difference by enabling and encouraging leaders who want to create and sustain meaningful change in themselves and the organisation.



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